Christie Administration Issues More than 700 Housing Vouchers to Vulnerable Residents Displaced by Superstorm Sandy
ASBURY PARK, N.J. – In support of Governor Christie’s commitment to help New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents, the Christie Administration today announced that more than 700 Section 8 Special Admissions Housing Choice Vouchers have been provided to date to low-income families displaced by Superstorm Sandy. The federally-funded housing vouchers average approximately $9,840 per year per household and are designed to help residents, who cannot return to their homes because of damage caused by Sandy, move into more permanent housing.
New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Assistant Commissioner Ana Montero and New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS) Commissioner Jennifer Velez joined other state and local officials today in Asbury Park on the boardwalk to highlight the importance of the program. Also on hand was a Sandy-displaced resident who received a Special Admissions voucher and is moving into housing that meets her needs.
“Superstorm Sandy devastated people of all socioeconomic levels,” said Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III. “The Christie Administration quickly set aside Section 8 vouchers to ensure they have the resources necessary to get into good housing and begin the process of rebuilding their lives.”
The Administration earmarked 1,000 Special Admissions vouchers from the DCA-administered Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program in December 2012. The HCV program provides decent, safe and sanitary housing to very low income households in the private rental market by reducing housing costs through direct rent subsidy payments to landlords. The Special Admissions vouchers are funded through existing program dollars that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded the DCA.
To date, 714 Special Admissions vouchers have been issued to eligible households. Of those, 318 have either moved into permanent housing or are nearly leased. Staff from the DCA is diligently working to help those voucher recipients still engaged in a housing search locate available rental housing that meets their needs. Staff is also continuing to review voucher applications for eligibility.
The Special Admissions vouchers were instrumental in helping families move out of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Transitional Sheltering Assistance program and into more permanent housing. The Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, which ended May 1, allowed eligible Sandy survivors who could not return to their homes because of damage caused by the storm to stay in participating hotels or motels until more suitable housing was found. With the help of such partners as DHS, FEMA, the American Red Cross, and county welfare agencies, the DCA has been able to more effectively connect with displaced residents who are eligible for the vouchers to encourage them to apply.
“Nearly seven months from Superstorm Sandy’s landfall, we collectively remain committed to securing short and long term housing for people left homeless by its devastation,” said Commissioner Velez. “With the dedication of nearly every sector of state government, disaster case managers, disaster crisis counselors, our counties’ Boards of Social Services and our partners in non-governmental organizations, we’re getting people settled into a home again.”
Voucher applications are being accepted from households that are referred by a collaborating agency such as FEMA, the American Red Cross, and Legal Services of New Jersey. Applicants must verify displacement from their housing as a direct result of Sandy. They must meet all other program eligibility standards, including being registered with FEMA and deemed eligible for FEMA housing assistance, having a gross household income that doesn’t exceed 40% of area median income, and being a U.S. citizen or legal resident.
Any voucher assistance awarded cannot be concurrent with housing assistance from another source. Also, applicants are required to provide proof of identity, citizenship status, Social Security Numbers, birth records, income records for all household members, along with proof of survivor status.
The DCA to date has hosted two rental fairs, in part, to assist Sandy-displaced households who have been approved for Special Admissions vouchers, and who need assistance locating rental housing. The first rental fair was April 6 in Toms River and the second was May 17 in Atlantic City. On both occasions, landlords, property owners, real estate agents, the American Red Cross, and DCA’s Section 8 housing staff were in attendance to offer assistance.
More information on Special Admissions Section 8 vouchers can be found at http://www.nj.gov/dca/divisions/dhcr/announcements/pdf/faq_sandy.pdf on the DCA website.